The next morning at 4 a.m. everybody is wakened and told to march again. They called this the dead march. Five thousand people, and we were in the second thousand. As we marched down the road we saw the dead people by the side of the road, shot from the first thousand.
The beatings continued like always and we start running towards Dachau, a distance of 150 kilometers. We walked and walked. There was always shooting at the back of the line so there’s less and less of us all the time. The old and exhausted were unable to run so they were shot on the spot and left by the side of the road. There was a special group of prisoners assigned to bury the dead. But with everyone running, they only had time to throw three or four shovels of earth so they could keep up with the main group. Shouting was constant.
At dusk, everyone rushed to the field of grass. Right turn, down and sleep. You slept wherever you were. Water, mud, whatever, you sleep in it. Some prisoners crawled to find some grass, something edible or water. I just slept right there in the mud and water. The guards were right there ready to shoot at any heads if they saw movement.
From there we left and headed to Dachau. The Germans had no bread, but they had sacks full of grain, so everyone got one or two handfuls of grain, about a pint’s worth.
On the way to Regensburg (Regensburg is halfway between Flossenburg and Dachau) we learned how to eat our corn. You took two cans, one in the bottom of other, make holes and stick wood there, put a little water with the corn, and make a fire in the bottom, and heat up and you have hot water and put grain in so you have something to chew on. Everybody around me had the ‘runs.’
So you have a can in a can?
So yes, wood, dry grass, paper, whatever. You have a chain to carry with – or a piece of something. And this heats the water and makes the grain into a little soup.
Where did you get the cans?
The SS had cans of food in their rucksacks. When they finished eating their rations we picked up their cans and trash. They had cans of beef; plenty of rations for whole week. At least 10 cans of food. That’s also why their rucksacks were so heavy. The guards couldn’t afford to lose their rucksacks. But because the rucksacks were so heavy they still made prisoners carry them.
Not all the prisoners had those cans but you did?
Yeah, sure you have to think and know to pick them up. You always have to think to survive.
The next day I decided to escape. All around us was very dense forest like the Bavarian mountains. The SS guard was way behind in the line, so I took off and ran like hell through the trees, protecting my eyes, going, going, going. But I didn’t know the road curved, and when I came out of the trees, there was the head of the prisoner column. The first SS guard in front of the line was so tired he just laughed when he saw me and waved me back in line. – Henry Zguda